Q: First, tell us something about yourself?
I’m a jungle gym to my kids and a cheesy joke-telling husband. My wife and I live in Minneapolis and have our hands in a few different creative spaces, including writing and music.
Q. How and when did your journey start as a writer?
I’ve written and developed content for youth workers and non-profits for the last 15 years, but this is my first step into children’s books and I’ve truly loved it. It’s really inspiring when you come across those books that invite both children and their adults into a story. That’s a hard creative challenge and I’ve loved stretching myself by trying to write in that way.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
The pandemic gave me the space to write—which has been such an odd “gift” during an incredibly challenging time. I wrote my first two books at the same time. Of the two, “My Dad’s Jokes Are Very (Terribly, Awfully, Painfully) Bad!” was the one that seemed to resonate the most, so it’s the one I chose to publish first. And it came together fast! From the story and illustrations, to the official release date, it was only about a 6-week process.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
I love books that invite children and their parents into a moment together. Mo Willems is one of my favorites at that, especially in his Don’t Let the Pigeon series. We love those books. So, I knew I wanted my first book to have a similar invitation for a family, with a good excuse to giggle a bit along the way. “My Dad’s Jokes Are Very (Terribly, Awfully, Painfully) Bad!” is written to give that invitation, where you’re met by a new friend who tries to be your survival guide as you encounter their Dad’s bad jokes.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader? Is there any specific reason?
Since becoming a parent, I’ve started to realize just how important books can be for a family. They give you an opportunity to remind kids about who they are, that they are safe, and are deeply loved. It’s also a chance to plant some seeds about who they can become. All of that can be wrapped up into storytimes with our kids, and it’s a gift that I wanted to be a part of for other families.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Honestly, so much of this book is our family life. The story was inspired by my son and I’s love/hate relationship with Dad jokes, and the jokes are some of our favorites (the last joke about a ghost is one that makes him laugh every time). Keith Zarraga, the illustrator, did a great job interpreting the story through his illustrations and putting his own personal touches into the characters.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
I hope my book gives you a chance to laugh (or at least giggle a bit) with your kids. Parenting is wonderful, but it’s also really hard at times. We can all use more excuses to laugh, and if my book can give you that excuse from time to time, then it’s all worth it.